What is the U.S. trademark office?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is the federal government’s patent and trademark office. It’s responsible for registering trademarks, patents, and other intellectual property. The USPTO is part of the United States Department of Commerce (DOC).
In Alexandria, Virginia: The DOC headquarters are located in Alexandria, Virginia.
The TTAB is a federal court that hears appeals from the USPTO. It’s not a trial court, but rather an “appeal” court—that is, it considers whether certain decisions made by other courts were correct or not. In this case, those decisions could be made by either the Trademark Examiner or Examiner-in-Chief (depending on what kind of case you filed).
The goal of the TTAB is to strike a fair balance between protecting the public interest in trademarks and safeguarding the rights of trademark owners.
A simple US trademark registration cannot be refused or withdrawn by the owner.
It is not a legal right to have your company name registered, and a simple registration does not guarantee protection from any other party’s use of that name in competition with yours.
A simple registration does not mean that you own the trademark rights to any particular word or phrase (or set of words and phrases), nor does it mean that others cannot infringe upon those rights without consent from you as owner of those trademarks.
 Based on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s 2012 Report of WIPO, The State of World Trade Marks 2011. This report indicates that only about 19% of the world population has a trade mark registration for their business name or trademark. In comparison, approximately one third have registered a copyright and around two-thirds are members of the Internet community.
If an owner is using a mark in commerce with disrespect, it will usually be refused registration unless recorded proof exists that the registered owner was doing so. For example, if you use your company’s name as part of another product or service without permission from your parent company (or whoever actually owns the trademark), this could be considered infringement.
Related Resources: – How to Apply for Trademark
The mark must be distinctive to be registerable and eligible for protection under federal law.
- Distinctiveness means that your mark will not be confused with another mark, even if it sounds similar or resembles the other one.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there are two ways to determine whether a particular trademark is distinctive:
- One way is through “use,” which means how widely used your product or service is in the marketplace; this can include sales figures, advertising campaigns and other factors indicating how many people know about your company’s products and services in general terms (e.,g., “Honda” isn’t necessarily distinctive because Honda makes cars). The other way is through “described features,” which refer specifically to features such as shape (e.,g., Honda CR-V) color(s) (e.,g., red) scent(s) smell(s)(s)(s)(s), etc.).
The TTAB will consider many factors when deciding whether a mark is protectable under federal law such as its similarity to another mark or potentially confusingly similar marks.
The TTAB will take into account the following:
- How similar the proposed mark is to other registered and commonly used trademarks;
- Evidence of use in commerce by the owner of the prior registered trademark;
- Information about whether there are any other parties with rights in connection with their own respective trademarks (i.e., common law or statutory rights) that would preclude registration on all grounds; and/or
- Whether there are “likelihood of confusion” between your proposed mark and existing ones owned by others
A mark can be registered at any time but only if use has commenced within 10 years from its filing date.
A trademark can be registered at any time but only if use has commenced within 10 years from its filing date. If you do not use a mark for 10 years, you will have to start over again.
If your business has been in operation for less than two years and is still seeking protection under its provisional application, it is important that you begin thinking about how best to make sure that your mark will be protected from competitors.
Media Contact: David Lewis Director, Business and Trademark Counsel, The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America (CCUSA) at 202-624-0333 ext. 30For more information, please contact: Bob Beadle, Partner and Co-Chair, Intellectual Property Practice Group Beadle & Regnier P.A. (904) 721-70001
All applicants should thoroughly research the goods/services for which their proposed marks are intended before submitting an application. It is also important to consider all other uses of your proposed mark, including those that may be apparent from common sense or ordinary business knowledge.
- Research the goods/services for which your proposed mark is intended.
- Research the goods/services for which your proposed mark is not intended but may be used in a different way.
There are several steps you will take to keep your name listed with certain organizations and ensure that you get your trademark recognized by the USPTO.
- File a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This can be done through the USPTO website, or you can send an application directly to them.
- Make sure that you are using your company name in all of its forms—this includes variations such as “Company Name,” “Company Incorporated,” etc.
The foregoing is a summary of the essential points to remember when registering a trademark. Each of these points can be further broken down into more detailed information that will help you understand how your brand name or logo will be protected, how much it will cost to do so, and what all you need to do. Categories: Business Law and Trademark